News | September 28, 2006

3-D Theater to Put Docs in the Middle of Images

Researchers in The Netherlands say they’ve realized the dream of truly interactive 3-D medical imaging: A company called Crosslinks is working to develop and market a software invention in Europe and around the world that provides 3-D visualization that clinicians and researchers can not only view head-on, but actually walk around and through.

“There are so many applications,” said Peter van der Spek, Ph.D., who led the development of the I-Space virtual reality theater at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam. “The first step is just realizing what you can do with it.”

With potential applications in both research as well as in diagnosis and treatment decisions, I-Space takes data from MR imaging, CT and ultrasonography and renders images for projection in three and four dimensions. The images can also be “played” back with a time component that allows researchers and physicians to see real-time animation, enabling analysis of elements such as irregular heartbeats or the movement of muscles.

Crosslinks envisions becoming a significant specialized player in the medical imaging market in the next three years and had formed partnerships formed with Silicon Graphics Inc. and Barco to aid in marketing, delivering, installing and supporting the hardware. Nevertheless, the company acknowledges that I-Space theaters are not likely to be popping up around the world right away. Acquiring an I-Space system requires substantial financial, logistical and structural commitments from a site, they said.

The full text of an article explaining one application of I-Space, “Dynamic 3-D Echocardiography in Virtual Reality” published in Cardiovascular Ultrasound, is available at www.pubmedcentral.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1343588.

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